It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

September 9, 2008

I hope that if I am alive and present for the End Of Days or the Apocalypse or Ragnarok or the Final Crisis Of Man or whatever you want to call it, that no matter how awful and gruesome it gets, it would at least be heralded by the four opening drum rolls of “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” 

True to its title, “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” feels simultaneously frantic and carefree, with its rapid-fire vocals and brisk tempo offset by some exceptionally crisp guitar parts, and a fairly relaxed harmony vocal that confronts what seems to be an imminent global catastrophe with a cool, deapan remark: “It’s time I had some time alone.” Maybe it’s best to take the song as a sort of default state of mind for living in a world that seems to be in a state of perpetual crisis, and from any number of perspectives always seems to be moving in the wrong direction. Crucially, the band are not singing about The End of the World, but rather the end of the world that we know, which is much more accurate and reflective of the shifting contexts that shape our understanding of the overwhelming number of things that happen on the planet every moment of every day. You can blame the media for “information overload,” but if anything, the media pares down what we could see and know into something more manageable. The song takes in just a bit of what is going on around the singer and what is inside the singer’s head, and the result is a bit of panic, a bit of resignation, and a bit of contentment. There’s a sense of scale in the lyrics, in which the significance and relative insignificance of things are weighed against one another, and it all comes out feeling equal. Everything matters, and nothing matters. It’s fine.

In the final verse, Michael Stipe describes a dream that he’s had about being at a party where everyone in the room is a famous person with the initials L.B. It’s silly and weird, and it’s a non sequitur in a song full of non sequiturs, but it’s perhaps the most memorable part, and provides its best shout-along moment: “Leonard Bernstein!” In the context of the song, it’s a colorful moment that captures the imagination with extremely specific language, but in the context of the band’s career, it’s one more example of Stipe delving into his unconscious mind for an impression of the world skewed by the imperfect way the human brain processes and categorizes information. In an old interview, Stipe expressed a bit of concern about why some corner of his mind could automatically offer up a list of famous men with the same initials, or why that sort of scenario could come up at all, but really, that’s just part of the beauty of the mind, and of dreaming. I reckon that if there’s any reason he has written about dreams on every record of his career, it’s because they provide our only direct path to the mysterious workings of our own minds, and the baffling pile-up of information, memories, traumas, received wisdom, and images that somehow add up to inform our perspective on the world, and form the basis of our identities.

62 Responses to “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”

  1. Chris Says:

    FIRST POST LOLZ

    From the guy who inadvertently put you up to this, my hearty congratulations on a staggering achievement well-done. May your efforts live forever in the Googlebrain.

  2. Brian Says:

    Is this the end of the Popsongs blog as we know it? If so, I’m not sure I’ll feel “fine.”

    It’s been a great site, Matthew. Thanks for taking us along this journey with you.

  3. Dan Says:

    Great way to end. Fantastic blog. Many thanks.

  4. millroy Says:

    This was fun and wonderful from beginning to end. Thank you.

  5. Tom E Says:

    Well done on finishing, god bless huge formal interweb projects. I will now go and actually read about the REM tracks I can remember! This is one I’m still very fond of, and is fun to try and remember the lyrics of in pubs.

  6. Blake Says:

    Your site made me discover REM. When I say discover I mean really appreciate them. I know think they’re greatest rock band since the Beatles as I have listened to all they’re albums incessantly. Except for Around The Sun. I’m sorry I hate that album.

  7. Blake Says:

    Oh and I’ve alwaus found it interesting that I’ve never heard one person give a similiar reading on this song aside from general apocalypse. Defintely one of their most cryptic songs.

  8. Justin S Says:

    This can’t be the end. You didn’t do “Losing My Religion (Dance Remix)”.

    Back to work.🙂

  9. Dave Greenlizard Says:

    So, you wrote about every R.E.M. song, eventually.

    Thank you for an always engrossing journey, Matthew. Even if I didn’t talk much, I followed you every step of the way, as I’m sure so many others have too.


  10. Well, except for some random songs and Accelerate. I’ll explain what will happen with Accelerate tomorrow.

  11. Josh Says:

    The Flux Flag is planted firmly in Little America.

  12. Macphisto Says:

    Thanks Matthew! I have been reading your blog from start to finish. As a life long R.E.M. fan, your insight had me revisiting old songs and other songs that I never gave a chance. What’s next? Dare to take on the Rolling Stones catalog?

  13. Jeff Says:

    I followed this blog for about a year and a half. I was entertained every step of the way. Thanks.

  14. David Says:

    Kudos, kudos, kudos. Thank you for making me listen to these songs in an entirely new light.

    If forced to pick a fave write-up, it’s “Life and How to Live It”… though, as with the songs, my favorite changes.

    Really impressive.

  15. sashwap Says:

    Wait, you didn’t do “Live for Today!”

    Just kidding, very impressive and engrossing work. Can’t wait to hear about Accelerate, eventually.

  16. protimoi Says:

    Haha, sashwap beat me to the “Live For Today” thing…i was always pulling for that little ditty.

    Congratulations on finishing the project Matthew, your writeups were well-thought out, and almost painfully articulate. As a writer myself, you’ve inspired me. The pieces on “Departure,” “Hope” and “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth” were especially poignant.

  17. Rob Says:

    Okay, I’m so glad to hear that this isn’t the end and that Accelerate will be covered. This site helped my love of REM revert back to it’s teenage incarnation with added adult smarts. Thank you for that Matthew. Thanks to all the regular (and irregular) commentators- Scott, Kirsten, Ignis, Mr Cup et al, this must be the only site were the comments pages are ALWAYS worth reading (seriously- have you read the shit that gets posted on You Tube?). I’m very happy that I’ll be able to spend more time with you all in cyberspace.

  18. Garrett Says:

    Congratulations on finishing. I’d had a few REM albums, but hadn’t really become attached to the band until this blog. It also inspired to go back and fill some of the gaps (how had I not heard Lifes Rich Pageant until this year?).

  19. maclure Says:

    The four drumrolls of the apocalypse… another great reading on another great song. I’ve also followed this for about a year and a half and enjoyed every minute of it – including you myriad of commenteers. I feel like we should all adjourn to a bar in cyberspace for a few cold ones. Matthew’s drink would be on me for bothering to write this blog – it’s a staggering achievement. IMHO, what you wrote about MONSTER was your best work. I had a niggling feeling that album was great – and you convinced me it was.

    OK, I’m ready for the encore… Accelerate.

  20. maclure Says:

    ps. I wondered if this song would end up being on 9/11. Perhaps, just a little too close to the bone…

  21. Heyberto Says:

    I always wondered which direction you would go with to explain this song, and as usual you did not dissapoint. I had no true preconceived notions of what this song meant, only to find more depth than I really considered was there before.

    Thanks much for it all Matthew. Wonderful interpretations and I look forward to your blogging of the Accelerate album.

  22. Paul Alferink Says:

    Two posts, first, about the song.

    Raise your freak flag if you ever tried to play and rewind the song over and over to try and write down the lyrics, before this interweb thing made searching for lyrics so easy?

    I was reading misheard lyrics from this song once. The new lyric was “It’s time I had some Tylenol.” Gosh, that’s pretty good too. Occasionally, I sing it that way, just because.

    I love the the chords going dissodent slightly right before the chorus. I love the lyrics, I love the call and answer chorus, replete with harmony on the call, started slightly after the melody. I love when they’d stop the instruments on the green tour and sign one chorus a cappella, adding a part each time they sang through it. Gorgeous.

    One wonders why this song doesn’t end document? Odd Fellows Feels tacked on, so the only reason I can think of is that Odd Fellows, like Wendell Gee, would really break up the album and bog it down if it were in the middle.

  23. Paul Alferink Says:

    What I have learned from this blog.

    Where was I at when this blog began:

    Around the Sun really had me down. I had got the album for Christmas, purposely waiting because people complain they never know what to get me. I remember throwing in the CD player as we were driving away from my in-laws, all excited. I had heard and kind of like “Leaving New York.” So I was looking forward to the whole album. I played Leaving New York through. Then I started listening to the first 30 seconds of every track to get a general feel for the album/look for any early highlights. Nothing was terribly accessible. So I started the album from the beginning. Electron Blue was nice. But after that, I became very discouraged. I got so bored with some tracks, that even though I was trying to listen all the way through, I got bored and skipped to the next one. Somewhere, I remember think. “Fuck this shit.” I turned it off. I didn’t listen to it again until this blog. I decided to give it another shot. So I put it on my I-Pod, Playlist. Get use to it. And I learned that while I still dislike most songs on the album. There are highlights. Very nice ones. Around the Sun. Ascent of Man. Electron Blue. Aftermath.
    This blog also got me very excited about “Life and How to Live it.”
    Honestly, this blog also made me get excited about Accelerate. I loved seeing REM live, and I’m not sure I would have gone if not for this blog renewing my enthusiasm. I pre-ordered Accerlate. I’m not sure I would have bought it, much less pre-ordered it, if not for this blog. Really, Matthew, you should ask for commission. Heck, I bought “And I feel fine; the best of the IRS years because of this blog.
    So a big round of applause on completing a Herculean task. And well done. All around. Also, props to many of the people who chimed in. Some of the post were fantastically insightful and thought provoking. Some just made me laugh.
    C.S. Lewis once said: “We read to know that we are not alone.” That is perhaps the most fantastic thing about this interweb. Ever fetish has a blog, and in the REM blog, I learned to raise my REM freak flag high. I’m not the only one who notices the uncensored “Kenneth.” I love REM, and I am not alone.

  24. Paul Alferink Says:

    Lenny noted that today is 9-9. Conversation fear. If there was ever a date to end an REM blog. . .

  25. lenny Says:

    Great job, Matthew. (Everyone else already said it better than I could.)

    Yes, Rob, the comments are really great, but not always worth reading, when you consider the fiasco we made of These Days. People should only check that one out if they some strong coffee and about 8 days to get through it all. (And I feel significantly responsible for this — and so does Paul.) At any rate, it needs to live on as a new blog (or Matthew can promise to never close the post to new comments; hint, hint!)

    Yes, I mentioned 9-9 on ‘These Days’ today, and that is a good comment by Paul about the end of the blog. Maybe the Accelerate reviews will be done by 9-9-09!

  26. Jacob Pease Says:

    Chapeau, Matthew! I do appreciate what you’ve done here.

  27. Figgy Says:

    Hi Matthew. I’d also like to congratulate you on the completion of this huge body of work. There must have been times when you regretted what you had got yourself into! It can’t have been easy balancing this project with your paid work. To your credit, I never felt you cobbled together the reviews quickly and threw any old shit on the blog just to get it finished – the reviews were always well thought out with your ideas and insights expressed clearly. That must have taken quite a bit of effort.

    I’m sure I speak for all the REM fans here when I say you didn’t let us down. And because this band is so dear to all the bloggers here, you should feel proud that you’ve satisfied and delighted a potentially very tough audience. Well done again.

  28. adam Says:

    I remember Peter saying at the time or recording either his favorite song on the record, or the worst. still stands the test of time. I remember blasting this out of our dorm window in santa cruz after the ’89 quake.

  29. jft Says:

    So it’s done. Finally. Except for Accelerate, yes, but the songs you wanted to do when you started it are done.
    I discovered the blog last summer and from then on regularly looked for new entrys and always loved reading them – as a side effect, my english was kept alive a bit, at least in words, if not in speech.
    This is a huge achievement, and as mentioned above, the comments were mostly worth reading. While I read regularly, I didn’t comment regularly, mostly because almost everything about it was said. Or because I had no time thinking about something intelligent to write. You did that in an excellent way.
    Accelerate was their first studio album I bought at the time of its release, and I enjoyed all the internet time connected to it, this blog, your first reviews, 90Nights, and so on. Some weeks ago, I was to my first R.E.M. concert – while I was a bit disappointed, this might have been mostly due to the audience, which was not very lively that evening in Würzburg. Elbow was an excellent opening band.
    I got to know what a fantastic fan community that band has. Even if it’s just a virtual place to write and read about them.

    Thank you.

    P.S. not much about the song here itself: i don’t like it. but that’s my personal taste.

  30. Ignis Sol Says:

    This song connects to me that final days of childhood and the beginning of adulthood. So, in away, it was the end of the world as I knew it. Since this song, R.E.M. grew to be one of the biggest and most respected bands in the world. I have grown myself and, despite some quirky entries in this here blog, am quite respectable. My favorite line: Offer me solutions,
    offer me alternatives and I decline
    .

    This blog has been a blast. Great job, Mr. Perpetua!
    I have met some interesting people here (thanks Mr Cup for the great art!). It’s a bit sad to see this, as it is, go away…like Kohoutek, it is gone.

  31. Ignis Sol Says:

    …..and so am I

  32. Timb Says:

    Round of applause Matthew this blog is awesome – are you planning to keep it up for the foreseeable future, it’s a great resource!


  33. Oh, the blog isn’t going anywhere. It will be here. You can comment on it forever, there just won’t be any new posts after the next one for quite some time.

  34. Flandall Says:

    It’s been a wonderful ride following the blog here and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus, I do enjoy the review of this song. It always made me think a bit about anarchy and politics. Great song and fantastic finisher to any concert!

  35. 2fs Says:

    Thank you, all: as many have said, most of the comments here were worth reading – a true rarity online. And thank you most specifically to Matthew: more than an incredible achievement, more than a fabulous read, this is one of the better (and certainly the most thorough) examinations of a band’s career that I’ve read. It probably works best in blog form – but I think it’s as insightful and generally as well-written as any book on R.E.M. I’ve read.

    I look forward to reading what your plans are regarding Accelerate (folks, he didn’t actually say he was going to do the same treatment…we’ll see).

  36. Mr Cup Says:

    This song always makes me think of New Years party out in the sticks. There were a few instruments lying around including a snare drum and some brushes. As the night wore on I had the urge to try and play the snare and the only tune that came to mind was this one. The intro
    machine gun/staccato rattle sounded great. I sang the first few lines and was urged to continue. Sobriety had long since given way to expressive flamboyance and, golly gosh, I convinced myself too that I should attempt the song.
    It was horrible to say the least, but made enjoyable by a bunch of friends and unknowns all in a group hug jumping in a big circle screaming the chorus over and over without any concessions to melody or harmony…or anything else really. Eventually someone played on the sound system whereby ten people tried playing the drum line on the solitary snare. It was around this time I discovered flailing around the dance floor ‘like you just don’t care’ can have percussive effects in group situations. oops.

    Great song that I never tire of.

    Congrats Matthew on writing some of the most incisive writing ever about the band that crawled from the south.

    Love yez all.

  37. Jerad Says:

    How appropriate that this showed up today, based on the other bad R.E.M. news I just read. Peter’s signature black Rickenbacker (the “trucker babe” guitar) was stolen after tonight’s show. I hope that this really isn’t the end of that (at least for R.E.M. fans) iconic instrument.

  38. Kirsten Says:

    Wow. Possibly for the last time Matthew – what an excellent write up. How you managed to make sense of a song that is essentially just a string of random words and phrases rolled into a “joyful noise” astounds me. But, I suppose you have managed to do this time and time again, as there are several REM songs that fall into that catagory! You mentioned the fun of audience participation on “Leonard Bernstein!” but my favourite is joining in on “Right? Right!”. I unfortunately haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this one live (hopefully if they tour down here they’ll play it) but on all the bootlegs and videos it is without a doubt one of the most explosive and fun songs live.

    Paul – my CD player has a button that plays the first 10 seconds of every song on a CD, so I do that with every new (or at least new to me) REM CD and have for the past 10 years. Then I skip to the most interesting-sounding songs first, then listen to the whole CD from start to finish.

    Thank you Matthew for all of your hard work and allowing me to be a part of this wonderful project. The realisation that I’m not the only one with this sort of passion for the band is an overwhelming feeling. Michael Stipe was right – no, you’re not alone. Being able to share views and ideas on different songs aswell as hearing other’s opinions is great even when you completely distroyed what I thought a song was about! Even when people’s ideas vary so much that we can’t all be right, it’s so interesting to see a song from a different perspective that I hadn’t considered before. Also, thanks for giving me a reason to come to work everyday.
    Oh, and sorry about These Days and High Speed Train.

  39. Kirsten Says:

    Am I the only one here with the same sinking feeling from Boy In The Well?
    I think I’m gonna go cry…..😦

  40. Kirsten Says:

    I just read about what Jerad refered to about what happened to Peter’s guitar. That’s disgraceful. Any true fan would know how significant something like that is and wouldn’t even consider doing anything like that. This shows no respect for the band and no respect for Peter. Hopefully, they’ll see sense and return it, as was with the “Automatic” sign in the 90’s. In the words of Peter himself on The Simpsons: That’s not the REM way.

  41. milesy Says:

    I make no apology for this being one of my favourite REM songs, ever since the end of the encore of my first gig in ’95. Man on the Moon is great in other ways, of course; but, for me, there is no better way to end a concert on a high than end of the world. Right? Right!

    This came home to me even more at my second trip to see REM, at Earl’s Court in London on the Up tour. Probably the most disappointing of the 4 shows I’ve been too, not for the performance, but for the fact that I was stuck in a seat at the back of a huge auditorium, instead of down in the mix. But I did enjoy, during the performance of this, the final song, the sight of one guy, right at the back of the huge standing area, just throwing himself about with complete abandon: kickin it out on the dancefloor like you just don’t care, indeed. I wished I could have joined him. Maybe it was one of you?

  42. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    Great blog. Great song. Great group of people. I honestly feel like a friend has died and would like to thank all the regulars for making this an awesome and interesting experience. Thanks, of course, to MP as well! You are a poet genius! I hope all of you have great lives filled with happiness and whatever you need and I’ll see you when we do Accelerate.

    As to the song, truly a case where an idea was so novel and original that I couldn’t help but catch on and become a cliche. Gotta love it anyway.

  43. Matheus Says:

    Once again an awesome post.

    I followed this blog since the very beginning but I didn’t post much perhaps because I thought the posts were so perfect I didn’t have much to add to them. It has been a fantastic trip through the entire R.E.M. catalog and I am sure if any of the band members read through it all they would be really glad their work means so much to all of us (I am pretty sure they already know that though) and they would also love every single post.

    I am 18 years old, therefore younger than most users here I think, so R.E.M. has been part of my life for a small amount of time compared to most of you (I am not saying you guys are old) but I am pretty sure I will take their songs with me whenever I go in the future.

    This blog great because you can see how amazing the songs by Berry, Buck, Mills and Stipe are and how incredible it is that they have many different meanings that can all be discussed in a site like this by great people with lots of experiences.

    May this site remain as a document to future generations! And see you all on the Accelerate posts. Meanwhile I believe the “These Days” post will still be used to on-topic and off-topic discussion. =)

  44. Dark Bob Says:

    This is undeniably one of REM’s greatest songs. To me, it’s very reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s “Subterrainian homesick blues” in it’s structure. Love it.

  45. Andy Says:

    Crap.
    Now what am I supposed to do with my time?

  46. 4trak Says:

    Well, really this song needs no comment. Which begs the question of why it has 46 of ’em.

  47. dumbek Says:

    Yes, Paul, you can count me in as one of those who sat down for hours, rewinding over and over again, trying to write down all of the words to this one. 21 years later and I still don’t think I have them all down.🙂

  48. ScottMalobisky Says:

    government for hire in a combat site it ain’t a pretty sight right

  49. Kirsten Says:

    Well said Andy.

    Time we had some time alone perhaps?

  50. Figgy Says:

    I actually have some mixed feelings about this song. Here we go…

    POSTIVE:
    This was the song that introduced me to REM and to an album that still ranks as one of my all-time favourites. I remember some of the cooler guys in school in the late 80s (who were into neither chart music nor heavy metal, and were therefore in a bit of a minority) speaking highly of “It’s the End of the World…” and of the band who wrote it. I borrowed a copy of “Document” mainly to hear that song and I liked it instantly.
    The rest of the album took a little longer to grow on me but once it did, my love affair with REM’s music began. I felt I’d discovered music that really meant something to me that was simply head and shoulders above anything that I would casually overhear on the radio. And from that point I not only sought out other REM albums but became interested in other non-mainstream music that had integrity for want of a better word… Pixies, Velvet Underground, The Clash, Jane’s Addiction, Stone Roses, local Irish bands, etc. Life-changing for a teenager. And it all started with “It’s the End of the World As We Know It…”

    NEGATIVE:
    I think over time I’ve become a little tired of the song. It’s now the one I’ll most likely skip on “Document”. But that’s not to say it’s a bad song or that I even dislike it. It’s just not one of my favourite REM songs anymore.

    MORE POSITIVES:
    When I briefly played in my very small-time REM tribute band, we did a version of this song and it’s really fun to play. On our final ever appearance, the singer sang “It’s the end of the band as we know it and I feel grand” during the final chorus, something the title of Matthew’s final blog entry reminded me of and made me smile about. Fond memories of good times.

    I have heard REM perform the song at three concerts and yes, it’s great live for all the reasons others have mentioned.

    Also, their performance of it on MTV Unplugged in 1991 was very enjoyable. Loved the way someone in the band muttered “Urrrgh, those guys again!” when Stipe introduced the song as being a request from the bods at MTV.

  51. Mr Cup Says:

    Tournament of lies
    or
    turn ’em into flies

    I still don’t know for sure. Oh sweet enigma.

  52. Figgy Says:

    I’ve always sang “turn him in, turn him in, turn him and oblige”, which really doesn’t make any sense. Sweet enigma indeed!

  53. Melonie Says:

    “step down, step down…”
    Let’s go a little deeper.

    I offer an alternative interpretation because I am notorious for reading (way too much) meaning into things, whether intentional or not.

    It’s easy to look at this song in an apocalyptic or cultural framework because so much of the text lends itself to that interpretation. Matthew touched on the idea that it reflects what’s going on around the singer and in his head, but I think it can go even deeper than that.

    I came to it kind of by accident. The line “The other night I dreamt of knives” intrigued me, so I looked in a dream dictionary to see what that would mean. Being a bit compulsive I started looking up other key words as well. Whether intended or not, many of the images in this stream of consciousness rant are ones that, in our subconscious state, point to equal parts inner turmoil, changes in perspective, and higher levels of enlightenment.

    This song is so heavily layered with imagery and depth of meaning that even doing a line by line (or for that matter, word by word) deconstruction or exegesis would only begin to scratch the surface of the many meanings and interpretations this song holds. Even the LBs have significance and give insight into the inner workings of Michael’s subconscious.

    And our own as well, if we choose to explore.

  54. Kirsten Says:

    I often wonder if most of these songs don’t mean anything and Michael Stipe just thinks we’re all a little bit strange….

    Offer me solutions!

  55. Melonie Says:

    Yeah, well there is that…
    Like I said in the preface, I usually look way too deep to find some great metaphysical or eschatological meaning in everything. If nothing else, he can get great humour and enjoyment from seeing how the world interprets his nonsense, if that’s all it is.

  56. Melonie Says:

    Minor vindication. From an article interviewing Stipe about songwriting:

    “Our job is to allow ourselves the space to do what we do. It’s up to other people to get all academic about it.”

    On the other hand, as Freud once said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

  57. Paul Alferink Says:

    Of course Freud said that! He was the guy sticking them in his mouth!

  58. Figgy Says:

    Hey Kirsten. Solutions have just been offered!

    I presume you’ve seen Matthew’s latest entry – the opportunity for each of us to ask Michael Stipe two songwriting-related questions. Get cracking!


  59. […] A week ago, Matthew Fluxblog wrapped up (for the time being) Pop Songs 07-08 with a post about R.E.M.’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). Pop Songs has been a favourite blog of mine since its inception so it was with kind of mixed feelings that I greeted Matthew’s final post. […]

  60. d'Zhuoy Says:

    Late again, as usual … but I’m thrilled to have had this blog pointed out to me in October by a friend who knows of my R.E.M. fanaticism. Great job, Matthew — epic!

    My take on ITEOTWAWKI(AIFF) is a little different than what’s been offered up so far. When I first heard Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” I thought to myself, What a ripoff of ITEOTRAWKI! I think Michael is writing almost a history of Western civilization, with the most obvious reference being “birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom!” The analogs to these, respectively, seem to me to be the US bicentennial (1976), the era of Farrah Fawcett & Bo Derek (late 1970s), Ronald Reagan (1980 — remember the his favorite candy that he kept on his desk?), and Reagan’s subsequent ratcheting up of nuclear brinksmanship.

    I’ll spare you my overanalysis of the rest of it, but to me it seems like something of a catalog of events leading up to a catastrophe wrought by history’s bad actors.

    One last note: I went to see R.E.M. at MSG two days after the 2004 election. It was the only time they ever opened a gig with this song and, to my knowledge, the only time Michael ever dropped his trousers (boxers, btw). Two fitting statements about the results of that election.

    My deep affinity for R.E.M. is based not only on the general brilliance of them, but also on the way their political songs fearlessly criticize bad government and yet paint a gorgeous portrait of the America that they (and I) hope for.

  61. Joe Says:

    This is surely one of the greatest song R.E.M. have ever recorded


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